Friday, November 20, 2009

Catch Me If You Can

Spielberg in the 00s Previous: Minority Report Next: The Terminal

Mainly known for his hugely popular, but well made and critically acclaimed blockbusters, or for his serious, dramatic takes of important historical events, Spielberg has also of late tackled some “lesser” stories. Not as epic, nor as dazzling, they are nevertheless further evidence that he is a great director. Curiously, Spielberg’s success has caused him to sometimes be seen as less of an artist. However, any way you look at it—be it critical acclaim or financial success—he remains one of the most acclaimed director’s ever.

One of his “smaller” films came in 2002’s Catch Me If You Can. It is an historic tale, and it is based on true events, but it is small in its scope. It tells the story of a teen-age con man in the sixties who managed to fool a lot of people into thinking that he was a pilot or a doctor. Go deeper, however, and it is a story about a son trying to impress his father and bring his parent’s back together after their divorce. In that, it is fully in keeping with a lot of Spielberg’s movies, as they tend to focus on father-son relationships.

A couple of the things that make this a stand-out film are the opening titles sequence and the music. The titles probably belong on a top ten list. (An interesting idea, we may have to come up with one in the future.) The music—as is normal for Spielberg—is provided by John Williams, but in a way he has not done before. He sounds as if he is trying to channel Mancini, so you have one of the best composers in film imitating another of the best.

(Beware of Spoiler)

One of the more interesting moments in the story comes after Frank has been caught and put to work for the government. He gives in to temptation once again and goes for a trip as a “pilot.” With his father gone and no one chasing him, he quickly comes back to work again. Sometimes the only thing driving us to do the forbidden is because it is forbidden.

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